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You think that you understand technology but when you arrive at The Known World, you discover a land where software pirates sail the seven seas, Derek the Rocket Scientist holds a communal barn raising to install his solar roof, and the future of technology policy is perpetually debated by the Society for the Promotion of Goodness and its rival, the Association for the Prevention of Bad Things.  These are some of the people and institutions that populate The Known World and help explain the nature of society and technology.

This blog contains the essays of David Alan Grier, which appear each month to discuss the ideas, the culture and the stories of the digital age. These blog postings and podcasts come from the column of the same name in Computer.

This podcast is brought to you by Computer magazine, the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society.

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Entries with tag Security.

Agreement on what should be evident

 The Congressional Research Service released its report on Stuxnet today.  The conclusions won't surprise any member of this society or any regular reader of this column.  The Stuxnet malware was clearly targetted at the Iranian nuclear sites and was a carefully engineered system that would require little modification to be used against other targets.  My contributions to this discussion is the November 2 entry entitled "Sabotage!"

This is one of the crucial points that we have crossed in the development of the computer and the use of software as a weapon.  The 1988 Internet Worm.  The I LOVE YOU virus.  Conflicker.  I supposed that it is useful to remember that computing has strong roots in the military and that the common use or computing was the targeting of weapons.  We all have aspirations for better things but this is part of our world.



Investing in Ignorance

Time and again, we have used ignorance to protect our infrastructure.  It is a version of the notion that we are secure because the country is protected by the two great moats of the Atlantic and Pacific.  "We are safe," the idea claims, " because no one can figure out how to damage our investments."  Experience that such is not a particularly good assumption for protecting our infrastructure, our investments or ourselves.  And so we have a comforting end of year podcast called "investing in ignorance."



Long John Software and the Digital Jolly Roger

The first of many columns about pirates.

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The Public Eye

What does it mean to be a computer investigator?

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Blogs of Note

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IT History: A blog by Paul Ceruzzi of the Smithsonian

David Alan Grier

David Alan Grier is a computer scientist, an established observer of the technology industry and a writer on issues of science and society.  In addition to producing The Known World, he has written two books,  When Computers Were Human, (Princeton University Press, 2005), which is the story of the workers who did scientific calculation before we had electronic computers.  In addition he has published Too Soon to Tell: Essays for the End of the Computer Revolution, (John Wiley/IEEE Computer Society, 2009).  A video of When Computers Were Human can be found here while a brief talk about Too Soon to Tell is found here. 

He is currently an associate professor at the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at the George Washington University.  

Despite sharing a common hometown and a common birth year with David Alan Grier the actor, he is an entirely different person.